بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the last Recover Ramadan post, I spoke about how important the salah (prayer) is.
There are two aspects of the salah: the outward actions and the inward actions.
The outward actions (i.e. that of the limbs and the tongue) all have to be in accordance with the salah of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam).
What about the inner actions? Well, that would be the actions of the heart.
That’s where the khushoo issue comes in. Khushoo, simply put, is the humility that one feels in salah.
You know, it’s that feeling. We all read about it and dream of attaining it. The key word here is dream.
Many people just think “Insha-Allah, one day I’ll pray with khushoo” and don’t take the steps that are necessary to achieve it.
What kind of steps do we need to take?
Well, I think that can be divided into two parts:
1) Just before and during the salah.
2) Outside the salah.
As for the first part, that involves many steps. I’ll just mention one.
Pay attention to what you are saying.
Yes, that’s it. Just focus and try to ponder over what you’re saying. Remember that Allah is watching you.
Just try this simple step and see how it goes. Whenever I focus on the salah, I get a different feeling.
In order to do this, you’d have to 1) understand the words of salah and 2) mix it up once in a while.
Mix up what, you ask? You know, vary the short surahs after Al-Fatihah (it doesn’t always have to be Surah Al-Ikhlaas, you know) and the various adkhar (supplications) in rukoo (bowing) and sujood (prostrating).
That was the easy part. The second step is much more difficult.
See, khushoo in salah is ultimately attained by having khushoo outside of it.
The reason that it’s so difficult for us to remain focused on Allah for a mere 15 minutes is because many of us don’t focus on Him the entire day.
How is it that we can forget about Allah for the whole day and then expect to be close to Him in prayer? Do we really think it’s as easy as flipping a switch?
No, it isn’t. The person who has forgotten Allah outside of prayer will not be allowed to remember Him in prayer. It’s as simple as that.
We all claim that the salah is very important to us so let’s ask ourselves some questions:
1) Do we constantly supplicate to Allah to grant us khushoo in our salah?
2) Have we made attaining khushoo in salah a priority in life?
3) Did we try to figure out how we can improve the quality of our salah?
4) Did we try to do some research on some ways that we can attain khushoo?
5) When we pray without khushoo, does it leave us feeling saddened and disgusted with ourselves? Or do we just let it go?
6) Does our entire day revolve around the salah? Do we plan all our days according to the prayer times?
7) Has our salah improved us as people? Has it brought us closer to the Lord of the Worlds?
We need to remember one thing: it is possible to attain khushoo. However, we need to change our attitudes, put in the required effort and keep slogging away until we get there, insha-Allah.
And even if we don’t get there, then at least when we are questioned on the Day of Judgment, we can say that we tried.
Still looking for ways to focus in salah and get that wonderful feeling of khushoo (humility)?
Try this book by Imam Ibn Rajab (rahimahullah): Humility in Prayer.
I haven’t had a chance to read all of it but I learnt a lot by just skimming through the book.
Also, Imam Ibn Rajab is a fantastic author. Too bad he lived centuries ago…
In an earlier post, I mentioned some tips to focus on Taraweeh and uploaded a file which contains the contents of each juz.
For those who prefer to listen, here’s a summarisation of the first 12 Ajzaa of the Quran.
[Note: That’s my tafsir blog. I’ll add all the tafsir related stuff there, and not on this (i.e. the Ramadan) blog. So, if you’re interested, please try to subscribe to it or check it regularly. I’ll try to post regularly, insha-Allah.]
17 rakaahs. That’s the minimum no. of units of prayer that a Muslim is supposed to pray per day, and many Muslims do pray all 17, alhamdulillah.
Yet, if you ask them to translate what they say in prayer, many of them will give you a blank look and say: “I don’t know what it means”.
Now, how do I know that many of them will say that? Because I’ve taught quite a few classes on prayer and I realised that many of the non-Arabs really had no idea what they were saying in prayer. If I translated something as simple as “Subhana Rabi Al-Alaa”, the looks I got suggested that this was Brand New Information to the audience.
How terribly sad. We’re supposed to say “Subhana Rabi Al-Alaa” at least once* in every sajdah (prostration) and we have no clue what we’re saying??? And how is it that we expect to focus on the salah when we don’t understand the words that we’re reciting?
[*Yes, once is obligatory. Thrice is recommended.]
**Umm Muawiyah stops making reader feel ashamed of himself/herself and puts on her (virtual) “I’m going to be positive” hat**
Alright then, so we don’t know. Fine, we’ll learn, insha-Allah.. And we’ll start TODAY so that by the time the first week of Ramadan ends, we’ll know exactly what we’re saying in salah.
How’s that? A dream? NO! That’ll be the reality, insha-Allah. I had the same problem many years ago but I can understand everything I say now, alhamdulillah. You will be able to as wellone day, insha-Allah (assuming that you cannot already do so).
So, first thing that we need to do: dua. For what? Well, we need to ask Allah to teach us and make things easy for us.
After this, we need to start studying. The following lecture series looks really good:
[For those who prefer reading, there are more resources at the end of the post.]
Yes, indeed. This is something we all need to work on, myself included.
Ramadan is a month of prayer: the taraweeh and the qiyam al-layl come to mind. We always dream of praying more in this month. Therefore, we need to prepare ourselves in advance.
Firstly, what is the point of praying? It’s done to get closer to Allah, to know Him, to establish a connection with Him, to praise Him and to glorify Him. Salaah is the primary application of tawheed. It isn’t done just to get it over with.
There are two important parts of the Salaah:
1) The outward actions – these have to be done the way the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) did it, not the way that we were taught by our parents, teachers, in-laws, etc. Of course, it’s quite possible that our parents or teachers taught us how to pray the right way. If so, then alhamdulillah. If not, then we need to leave the wrong way and learn the right way.
2) The inward actions – This is the action of the heart and that’s where the seat of khushoo (humility) is. This is what we would call “focusing on our salaah”.
[Completely unrelated but very important point: Yes, it is SALAAH, not SALAAT.]
Insha-Allah, in future posts, I’ll be putting up resources on how to pray properly as well as khushoo tips.
For now, I’ll leave you with Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim’s (rahimahullah) words:
[Waswaas = insinuating whispers from Shaytaan]
“When it comes to prayer, people are of five levels:
The first is the level of the one who wrongs himself and is negligent. He does not do wudoo properly, or pray at the right time or make sure he does all the necessary parts of prayer.
The second is one who observes the outward essentials of prayer, prays on time and does wudoo, but he has lost the battle against his own self and is overwhelmed with waswaas.
The third is one who observes the outward essentials of prayer, prays on time and does wudoo, and also strives against his own self and against waswaas, but he is preoccupied with his struggle against his enemy (i.e. the Shaytaan), lest he steal from his prayer, so he is engaged in salaah and jihaad at the same time.
The fourth is one who when he stands up to pray, he fulfils all the requirements of the prayer, and his heart is fully focused and alert lest he omit anything, and his concern is to do the prayer properly and perfectly. His heart is deeply immersed in his prayer and worship of his Lord.
The fifth is one who does all of that, but he takes his heart and places it before his Lord, looking at his Lord with his heart and focusing on Him, filled with love and adoration, as if he is actually seeing Him. That waswaas and those thoughts diminish, and the barriers between him and his Lord are lifted. The difference between the prayer of this person and the prayer of anyone is else is greater than the difference between heaven and earth. When this person prays, he is preoccupied with his Lord and content with Him.
The first type is punishable; the second is accountable; the third is striving so he is not counted as a sinner; the fourth is rewarded and the fifth is drawn close to his Lord, because he is one of those for whom prayer is a source of joy. Whoever finds their joy in prayer in this life, will find their joy in being close to Allaah in the Hereafter, and will also find his joy in Allaah in this world. Whoever finds his joy in Allaah will be content with everything, and whoever does not find his joy in Allaah, will be destroyed by his feelings of grief and regret for worldly matters.” (al-Waabil al-Sayib, p. 40).
[Quoted from 33 Ways of Developing Khushoo in Salaah]